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A getai (literally song stage) (Simplified Chinese: 歌台), is a usually boisterous live stage performance held during the Ghost Festival commonly held in Singapore, Malaysia and some parts of Indonesia (mainly in Riau, Riau Islands and North Sumatra), in contrast to the generally solemn mood of the festival. However the performance is also routinely played at other Chinese festivals. The stage setup is usually composed of temporary structures and situated in the suburbs of the city in any empty field or even in parking spaces or housing estate.
In the past, performances were usually of Chinese operas or puppet shows. The performances are meant to be for the spirits but also for people during the seventh month. With the decline of Chinese opera and traditional puppet shows, the performances evolved to become what is known today as Getai.
Younger people in Singapore may relate to Getai as kitsch, while older people enjoy dancing and singing along to familiar songs, often in Hokkien. Traditional singers such as Liu Lingling tend to dress conservatively, while young performers drawn to getai may choose more revealing outfits.
The backdrop of the stage is usually made of cardboard and clothes painted in bright colours, vibrantly illuminated by coloured spotlights. The performers normally don loud and glittery clothing. Some compères[clarification needed] indulge in crude humour; others maintain a quick-witted dialogue, joking about local and current affairs, sometimes switching between Mandarin, local Chinese dialects, and even English and Indian languages.
Getai has been increasingly accepted and celebrated by the mainstream media. Royston Tan's 2007 movie 881 is based on a pair of getai singers. The Straits Times's social networking and citizen journalism portal STOMP holds the Getai Awards annually to honour popular getai artists. These artists are selected via voting by the general public.
Getai emerged in Singapore in the years of Japanese occupation in the 1940s. An early getai was built in Weiyang Gong in the New World Amusement Park, however it was bombed by the Japanese and a new stage Gongkai Tai was built. The early getai performed mostly songs. Later dancing, drama and acrobatics were also added by performers from gewutuan (歌舞团 or song-and-dance troupes), another kind of entertainment show that had begun to decline in popularity by that time. Getai became increasing popular, and by the 1950s, there were 4 getai stages in the New World, and many other getai were also set up in other amusement parks.
Getai in amusement parks declined in popularity in the late 1950s and began to be closed in the 1960s. It had however become established by the 1970s as popular entertainment on makeshift stages set-up along streets and in other public spaces during Ghost Festival. In more recent years, getai has also been organized for other Chinese festivals, such as the Mid-Autumn Festival. Resorts World Sentosa's casino included getai in its 2010 Chinese New Year celebrations. Loyang Tua Pek Kong Temple arranged getai for the 2010 Mid-Autumn celebrations.
A groundbreaking getai was held in 2006. This was a twelve-hour marathon getai that saw many famous performers gracing the stage and bringing the crowd to their feet. The organiser was Peter Loh, a veteran in the getai scene. The marathon was a one-of-a-kind and it really awed the whole of Singapore. 2011 was another milestone when getai performances were held at Orchard Road for the first time. And the stage design and sound system have major changes throughout the years.
In 2015 Singapore Mediacorp Channel 8 held a competition for getai singers called Getai Challenge (歌台星力量).
A Copyright Permit (for Ad-Hoc Events) is needed for public performances, like getai. This can be acquired from COMPASS - Composers and Authors Society of Singapore Ltd.
Popular Getai singers/hosts
- Chen Jinlang
- Zhong Yaonan
- Angel Law (罗恩琪)
- Zhu Feng (朱峰)
- Amelia Lin
- Liu Lingling (刘玲玲)
- Lee Pei Fen (李佩芬)
- Hao Hao (皓皓)
- Chen Xiao Xin (陈晓欣)
- Mai Hui (麦卉)
- Lin Li (林利)
- Marcus Chin (陈建彬)
- Wang Lei (王雷)
- Zhuang Qing Yu（庄清玉）
- Anna Lim (林茹萍)
- Zheng Xiao Hui (郑晓慧)
- Ming Zhu Sisters (明珠姐妹)
- Zhu LiLi (朱莉莉）AKA 小明珠
- Hsu Chiung Fang (许琼芳)
- Wu Pei Zhi (吴佩芝)
- The Babes (宝贝姐妹)
- Liz Low (刘丽芝)
- Jessica Tan (陈诗婷)
- Alice Ong (王文玲)
- Huang Yi Wen (黄怡雯)
- Desmond Ng (黄振隆)
- Lee Bao En (李宝恩)
- Sherraine Law (罗翊绮)
- 2Z Sisters (2Z姐妹)
- Wina Xie (谢伟娜)
- Leon & Febe (承泽 秀萍)
- Foreigners invade getai, The Straits Times, Aug 23, 2009
- Getai: Sexy, not sleazy, The New Paper, July 7, 2009.
- "STOMP honours getai artists". The Straits Times. July 15, 2010.
- Chan Kwok-bun and Yun Sai-shing (2014). Kwok-Bun Chan, ed. Chinese Entertainment. Routledge. p. 24. ISBN 9781317977995.
- Chan Kwok-bun and Yun Sai-shing (2014). Kwok-Bun Chan, ed. Chinese Entertainment. Routledge. p. 26. ISBN 9781317977995.
- "Getai". Singapore infopedia.
- "Getai not pantang". The New Paper. AsiaOne. March 1, 2010. Archived from the original on March 5, 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-10.
- "GETAI CHALLENGE 歌台星力量". Mediacorp Pte Ltd.
- Intellectual Property Office of Singapore. "Collective Management Organisations". July 12, 2010.